Panthers still on the prowl
POTTSVILLE could transform from the surprise side of the season into a genuine premiership contender, if the Panthers can take the full six points from their weekend double-header against Lismore Thistles and Italo Stars in Football FNC premier league soccer.
Both games are on home soil – where the Panthers are undefeated – with Thistles heading north today for a 5pm kick-off, then Italo Stars tomorrow at 2.30pm.
After an unsuccessful stint in the premier ranks in 2008, the Panthers have made a huge impact since returning this season, rattling up 17 goals in winning their past four games to be running second.
Coach David Lonie will run out the same line-up that gave Workers a 4-0 drubbing on Tuesday night, but is not getting carried away.
“We haven’t talked about chasing the minor premiership, our goal remains making the semis and besides, Goonellabah has a 12-point buffer which is almost impossible to make up,” Lonie said.
“But there’s no doubt the boys are focused and playing well.”
Lonie himself will play a key role with his ball distribution behind strikers Mike Kolovos and Josh Boag, as the Panthers look to maintain their avalanche of goals.
But Thistles also know how to attack as their 5-4 win over Richmond Rovers last week proved and, with their place in the top five at stake, the Blues will be looking for back-to-back wins.
With a generally larger side, Pottsville will have a physical and aerial advantage, but the Blues’ ability to break quickly with pace will test the Panthers’ defence in what shapes as a fast, open match.
The clash with Stars will probably be played at a slower pace, although Stars won’t be backing up after their scheduled game against Goonellabah last night was postponed.
But with Stars near the foot of the ladder, the in-form Panthers will start firm favourites.